Benoît Tréluyer and his two co-drives André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler celebrated their first win of the WEC season at Spa-Francorchamps. Now they will focus on the premier endurance race: the 24 Hours of Le Mans!
Benoît Tréluyer and Audi Sport crew-mates André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler achieved a season’s first FIA World Endurance Championship victory in Saturday’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (4 May), a triumph that sends them to the top of the drivers’ standings and provides a significant confidence boost ahead of next month’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
The #1 crew were not overly worried approaching the second round of the 2013 campaign, though they knew they would need to work efficiently and without mistakes during the two-day Spa event.
“I had a good feeling as soon as I took to the track for the first time,” admits Benoît. “Marcel, André and I shared information well while our engineers Leena and Justin immediately understood what we wanted. We also managed to anticipate the evolution of the track in terms of grip.
We were able to use the experience which we have been lacking in the Ardennes until now. Two years ago Spa represented our debut for Audi and last season we finished second. This year we were finally ready.”
“André held the lead at the start but then locked up a little and found himself on the outside of La Source,” comments Benoît. “As a consequence he was overtaken from both sides, but he produced a very impressive comeback amidst the traffic.
It was crazy: not only did he manage to retake the lead, he went on to secure an advantage of nearly 20 seconds on our team-mates in the #2 by the time the Safety Car was deployed following an incident at Eau Rouge.”
During the caution period Lotterer hit debris which resulted in a slow puncture. To make matters worse he was unable to stop immediately as the pitlane remained closed, forcing the German to circulate for an additional lap with the race now restarted.
“We lost even more time here,” reports Benoît. “When I re-joined the track after replacing André we’d dropped to seventh, which was last of the LMP1s. Then during my double stint I attacked, attacked, attacked – and managed to get us back into the lead after 76 minutes! Marcel then took the wheel and continued to push, creating a gap out front.
Despite a quick stoppage which cost around 20 seconds to tighten an aero part, we finished over a minute clear of the #2 car after André completed the job with an excellent final stint. In the end, after being delayed for more than a minute we won by over a minute. Amazing!”
Equally impressive was the overall result, which saw Audi lock out all three steps of the podium with the #1 followed home by the #2 and #3. However Benoît remains calm and focussed.
“We were very competitive and we learnt a lot at Spa. Our #3 car ‘long-tail’ car also ran a great race and gathered a lot of information which will be very useful at Le Mans, but we must not underestimate our opponents,” adds the Alençon-born driver. “The new Toyota was very competitive until mid-race when it hit technical problems, so we must be mindful of them.
We are happy with our work but remain cautious. There still are points which need to be improved on our side and we’re going to work extremely hard as we cannot rest on our laurels.”
The #1 trio has now taken the world championship lead by a single point heading to La Sarthe. “There were no major problems at Silverstone and none here; I’m not sure we’ve ever been so relaxed! I do not want to approach Le Mans with too much confidence, but it is obviously better to arrive there with a win in the bag rather than in panic mode!
The mechanics, engineers and everybody at Audi has done a fantastic job – it’s a real team effort. We are in a good place and we’re prepared, but in Le Mans anything can happen!”
Just a few hours after climbing down from the top step of the podium Benoît flew with his wife, son and a friend towards the sunny skies of Marakesh in order to catch his breath before fully immersing himself in preparations for the 24 Hours, which will begin with the pre-test on 9 June.